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Posts by Sarah Sheard

An Appraisal of the Systems Engineering Journal's Treatment of Software Over the Last Two Decades

An Appraisal of the Systems Engineering Journal's Treatment of Software Over the Last Two Decades

• Blog
Sarah Sheard

Systems engineers working today face many challenges, both in building the complex systems of systems of the future and in building the complex systems of which they are composed. Systems engineers need to be able to design around stable requirements when there are long-lead manufactured items required, and they also need to evolve the design along with changing requirements for larger systems. Software plays an integral role in helping systems engineers accomplish these goals. The...

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Aircraft Systems: Three Principles for Mitigating Complexity

Aircraft Systems: Three Principles for Mitigating Complexity

• Blog
Sarah Sheard

This post is the first in a series introducing our research into software and system complexity and its impact in avionics. On July 6, 2013, an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 airplane flying from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on final approach into San Francisco International airport. While 304 of the 307 passengers and crew members on board survived, almost 200 were injured (10 critically) and three young women died. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blamed...

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The Changing Relationship of Systems and Software in Satellites: A Case Study

The Changing Relationship of Systems and Software in Satellites: A Case Study

• Blog
Sarah Sheard

The role of software within systems has fundamentally changed over the past 50 years. Software's role has changed both on mission-critical DoD systems, such as fighter aircraft and surveillance equipment, and on commercial products, such as telephones and cars. Software has become not only the brain of most systems, but the backbone of their functionality. Acquisition processes must acknowledge this new reality and adapt. This blog posting, the second in a series about the relationship...

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Needed: Improved Collaboration Between Software and Systems Engineering

Needed: Improved Collaboration Between Software and Systems Engineering

• Blog
Sarah Sheard

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that acquisition-program costs typically run 26 percent over budget, with development costs exceeding initial estimates by 40 percent. Moreover, many programs fail to deliver capabilities when promised, experiencing a 21-month delay on average. The report attributes the "optimistic assumptions about system requirements, technology, and design maturity [that] play a large part in these failures" to a lack of disciplined systems engineering analysis early in the program. What acquisition...

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Sarah Sheard

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